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June 13, 2018

Calm & Clear: Oliver’s healthy food guide at exam time.

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Oliver McCabe

Teenagers are nearly as stressed as adults these days due to pressure from school and friends. Stress easily promotes downward spiral of health. I see so many teenagers on their way to school stopping off at the local sweet shop and basically having their breakfast consisting of soft drinks, sweets and crisps leading to weight problems and irritability. This is due to the sudden raised levels of blood sugar which also leads to sudden slumps which leads to fatigue and poor concentration. Bad concentration can cause problems in the teenage years. The problem is often down to an imbalance in blood sugar, and a diet poor in omega-3 fats. The imbalance in blood sugar usually is from refined carbohydrates or sugars such as sweets, crisps or French fries. Stimulants can play havoc as well such as tea, coffee or cola. Again all these make blood sugars rise suddenly and come crashing down. It is so important to have the blood sugars level and balanced to create and hold attention in a teenager.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and needs to be wholesome and filling. Breakfast sets you up for the entire day and must be given some time in preparing the meal and eating it relaxed. This is vital for mental and physical health in times of stress. The breakfast must be rich in nutrients and devoid of any refined or sugary foods. A filling healthy breakfast would consist of porridge made from pinhead oatmeal, jumbo oat flakes with fruit and yoghurt or a boiled/poached egg with whole meal, rye or spelt bread toasted. Even smoothies are a great way to have a quick satisfying breakfast if u are rushing in the mornings made with milk or non dairy milk with natural yoghurt and a variety of soft fruits e.g. berries or mango, and then add pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Another way to absorb omega-3 is through flaxseeds or linseeds grounded and sprinkled on porridge or added to a smoothie or you can take as an oil supplement. For lunch and supper, give lean meat or veggie options with whole grains and plenty of vegetables e.g. homemade soups and stews and fruit for snacking. Omega-3’s can be found in oily fish such as mackerel and salmon. Three times a week would be great at one of your three meals.

When preparing a lunchbox try toasting your whole meal bread this is better for digestion. Use hummus instead of butter. Hummus is also great on oatcakes or even peanut butter or some sort of good nut butter. Also try a handful of nuts from almonds to cashew. Instead of fizzy drinks why not try a good diluted fruit juice or mineral water. Exercising three times a week for 30 minutes if it’s walking, jogging cycling, football or even yoga keeps you burning calories continuously improving energy and concentration, weight regulation with less stress and irritability.